Society

, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 439–446 | Cite as

Politicized Science

Commentary

Abstract

Publication of the study, How Different are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study (Regnerus, 2012), caused a firestorm in the scientific community. Unlike previous studies, it found differences between the children raised by parents who had experienced a same-sex relationship as compared to those raised by heterosexual parents. Most would acknowledge that policy-relevant social science is seldom value free and frequently gets politicized, but the Regnerus controversy illustrates that it is value dependent, with scientist deeply embedded in its politicization. The kind if science that gets conducted, how findings are interpreted and received, and the degree of critical scrutiny such studies receive is dependent upon scientists’ sociopolitical views. Making every effort to apply the same standards when scrutinizing studies that provide politically palatable results as those that do not, and promoting rather than discouraging ideological diversity among researchers and their funders, are the best way to ensure value-pluralism and the integrity of science in the oft-politicized field of social science.

Keywords

Gay parenting Scientific groupthink Bias Politics and Science Politically Correct science 

Further Reading

  1. Abramowitz, S. I., Gomes, B., & Abramowitz, C. V. 1975. Publish or politic: Referee bias in manuscript review. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 5, 187–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amato, P. R. 2012. The well-being of children with gay and lesbian parents. Social Science Research, 41(4), 771–774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrett, D. 2012. Presentation, politics, and editing: The marks/regnerus articles. Social Science Research, 41(6), 1354–1356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartlett, T. 2012. Controversial gay-parenting study is severely flawed, journal’s audit finds. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/percolator/controversial-gay-parenting-study-is-severely-flawed-journals-audit-finds/30255.
  5. Bloom, P. B., & Levitan, L. C. 2011. We’re closer than I thought: Social network heterogeneity, morality, and political persuasion. Political Psychology, 32, 643–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brenner, L. A., Koehler, D. J., & Tversky, A. 1996. On the evaluation of one-sided evidence. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 9, 59–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School. 2009. The cultural cognition of gay and lesbian parenting: Summary of first round data collection. Retrieved from http://www.culturalcognition.net/storage/Stage%201%20Report.pdf.
  8. Ditto, P. H., & Lopez, D. F. 1992. Motivated skepticism: Use of differential decision criteria for preferred and nonpreferred conclusions. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 63, 568–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gallup. 2011. For first time, majority of Americans favor legal gay marriage. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/147662/first-time-majority-americans-favor-legal-gay-marriage.aspx.
  10. Gaffan, E. A., Tsaousis, J., & Kemp-Wheeler, S. M. 1995. Researcher allegiance and meta-analysis: The case of cognitive therapy for depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 966–998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gates, G. J., et al. 2012. Letter to the editors and advisory editors of social science research. Social Science Research, 41(6), 1350–1351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gauchat, G. 2012. Politicization of science in the public sphere: A study of public trust in the United States, 1974 to 2010. American Sociological Review, 77(2), 167–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Glenn, N. D. 2001. Social science findings and the “family wars”. Society, 38(4), 13–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Herek, G. M. 2009. Hate crimes and stigma-related experiences among sexual minority adults in the United States: Prevalence estimates from a national probability sample. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(1), 54–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Herek, G. M., Norton, A. T., Allen, T. J., & Sims, C. L. 2010. Demographic, psychological, and social characteristics of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in a US probability sample. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 7(3), 176–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Herrnstein, R. J., & Murray, C. 1996. The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life (Revth ed.). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  17. Horowitz, I. 1996. Are the social sciences scientific? Academic Questions, 9(1), 53–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Horowitz, I. L. 1993. The decomposition of sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hull, D. 1988. Science as a process: An evolutionary account of the social and conceptual development of science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Inbar, Y., & Lammers, J. 2012. Political diversity in social and personality psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 496–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jasonoff, S. 2004. States of knowledge: The knowledge and co-production of science and social order. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Janis, I. L. 1982. Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascos (2dth ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  23. Johnson, B., et al. 2012. Letter to the editor. Social Science Research, 41(6), 1352–1353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jussim, L. 2012. Liberal privilege in academic psychology and the social sciences commentary on Inbar & Lammers (2012). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 504–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kahana, D. M., Jenkins–Smith, H., & Braman, D. 2011. Cultural cognition of scientific consensus. Journal of Risk Research, 14(2), 147–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kelley, L. P., & Blashfield, R. K. 2009. An example of psychological Science’s failure to self-correct. Review of General Psychology, 13(2), 122–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Klein, D. B., & Stern, C. 2009. By the numbers: The ideological profile of professors. In R. Maranto, R. E. Redding, & F. M. Hess (Eds.), The politically correct university: Problems, scope and reforms (pp. 15–38). Washington: AEI Press.Google Scholar
  28. Klein, D. B., & Stern, C. 2009. Groupthink in academia: Majoritarian departmental policies and the professional pyramid. In R. Maranto, R. E. Redding, & F. M. Hess (Eds.), The politically correct university: Problems, scope and reforms (pp. 79–98). Washington: AEI Press.Google Scholar
  29. Kunda, Z. 1990. The case for motivated reasoning. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 480–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. 1979. Laboratory life: The social construction of scientific facts. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Lilienfeld, S. O. 2002. When worlds collide: Social science, politics, and the Rind et al. (2008) child sexual abuse meta-analysis. American Psychologist, 57(3), 176–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lerner, R., & Nagai, A. 2001. No basis: What the studies don’t tell us about same-sex parenting. Washington: Marriage Law Project.Google Scholar
  33. Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U. K. H., Seifert, C. M., Schwarz, N., & Cook, J. 2012. Misinformation and its correction: Continued influence and successful debiasing. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(3), 106–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Loury, G. C. 1994. Self-censorship. In E. Kurzweil & W. Phillips (Eds.), The politics of political correctness (pp. 132–144). New York: Partisan Review Press.Google Scholar
  35. Lord, C. G., Lepper, M. R., & Preston, E. 1985. Considering the opposite: A corrective strategy for social judgment. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 47, 1231–1243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lord, C. G., Ross, L., & Lepper, M. R. 1979. Biased assimilation and attitude polarization: The effects of prior theories on subsequently considered evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 2098–2109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. MacCoun, R. J. 1998. Biases in the interpretation and use of research results. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 259–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. MacCoun, R. J. 2004. Conflicts of interest in public policy research. In D. A. Moore, D. M. Cain, G. Loewenstein, & M. Bazerman (Eds.), Conflicts of interest: Problems and solutions from law, medicine, and organizational settings (pp. 233–262). London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. MacCoun, R. J., & Paletz, S. 2009. Citizens’ perceptions of ideological bias in research on public policy controversies. Political Psychology, 30(1), 43–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mahoney, M. J. 1977. Publication prejudices: An experimental study of confirmatory bias in the peer review system. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1, 161–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Marks, L. 2012. Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting. Social Science Research, 41(4), 735–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Martin, D. 2012. Irving Louis Horowitz, sociologist and ideological critic, dies at 82. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/26/nyregion/irving-louis-horowitz-sociologist-dies-at-82.html.
  43. Massey, D. S. 2012. Comment. Social Science Research, 41(6), 1378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Merrigan, T. 2012. UT investigates professor’s study on children with gay parents. Retrieved from http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/ut-investigates-professors-study-on-children-with-/nRp5t.
  45. Miller, N., & Pollack, V. E. 1994. Meta-analysis and some science-compromising problems of social psychology. In W. R. Shadish & S. Fuller (Eds.), The social psychology of science (pp. 230–261). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  46. Munro, G. D. 2010. The scientific impotence excuse: Discounting belief-threatening scientific abstracts. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40, 579–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Moynihan, D. P. 1979. Social science and the courts. National Affairs, 54, 12–31.Google Scholar
  48. Newport, F. 2011. For the first time, majority of Americans favor legal gay marriage. Gallup Politics. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/147662/First-time-Majority-Americans-Favor-Legal-Gay-Marriage.
  49. Pastore, N. 1949. Need as a determinant of perception. Journal of Psychology, 28, 457–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Patterson, C. J., & Redding, R. E. 1996. Lesbian and gay families with children: Implications of social science research for policy. Journal of Social Issues, 52(3), 29–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pittinger, D. 2001. Hypothesis testing as a moral choice. Ethics & Behavior, 11, 151–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Prentice, D. A. 2012. Liberal norms and their discontents. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 516–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Redding, R. E. 1998. Bias without measure on The Bell Curve. Contemporary Psychology, 43, 748–750.Google Scholar
  54. Redding, R. E. 1999. Reconstructing science through law. Southern Illinois Law Review, 23, 585–610.Google Scholar
  55. Redding, R. E. 2001. Sociopolitical diversity in psychology: The case for pluralism. American Psychologist, 56, 205–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Redding, R. E. 2008. It’s really about sex: same-sex marriage, lesbigay parenting, and the psychology of disgust. Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy, 16, 127–193.Google Scholar
  57. Redding, R. E. 2012. Likes attract: The sociopolitical groupthink of (social) psychologists. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 512–515.Google Scholar
  58. Redding, R. E., & Reppucci, N. D. 1999. Effects of lawyers’ sociopolitical attitudes on their judgments of social science in legal decision making. Law & Human Behavior, 23, 31–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Regnerus, M. 2012a. How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the new family structures study. Social Science Research, 41(4), 752–770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Regnerus, M. 2012b. Parental same-sex relationships, family instability, and subsequent life outcomes for adult children: Answering critics of the new family structures study with additional analyses. Social Science Research, 41(6), 1367–1377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Reich, D. A., Green, M. C., Brock, T. C., & Tetlock, P. E. 2007. Biases in research evaluation: Inflated assessment, oversight or error-type weighting? Journal of Experimental Psychology, 43, 633–640.Google Scholar
  62. Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., & Bauserman, R. 1998. A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 22–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., & Bauserman, R. 2000. Condemnation of a scientific article: A chronology and refutation of the attacks and a discussion of threats to the integrity of science. Sexuality and Culture, 4, 1–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schumm, W. R. 2005. Empirical and theoretical perspectives from social science on gay marriage and child custody issues, St. Thomas Law Review, 18, 425–471.Google Scholar
  65. Schumm, W. R. 2010. Comparative relationship stability of lesbian mother and heterosexual mother families: A review of evidence. Marriage and Family Review, 46(8), 499–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schumm, W. R. 2012. Lessons for the “devilish statistical obfuscator”, or how to argue for a null hypothesis: a guide for students, attorneys, and other professionals. Innovative Teaching, 1(2), 1–13.Google Scholar
  67. Schumm, W. R. 2012. Methodological decisions and the evaluation of possible effects of different family structures on children: The new family structures survey (NFSS). Social Science Research, 41(6), 1357–1366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sherkat, D. E. 2012. The editorial process and politicized scholarship: Monday morning editorial quarterbacking and a call for scientific vigilance. Social Science Research, 41(6), 1346–1349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Shermer, M. 2005. Science friction: Where the known meets the unknown. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
  70. Smith, C. 2012. An Academic Auto-da-Fé. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/An-Academic-Auto-da-F-/133107/.
  71. Stacey, J., & Biblarz, T. J. 2001. (How) Does sexual orientation of parents matter? American Sociological Review, 65, 159–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Suedfeld, P., & Tetlock, P. (Eds.). 1992. Psychology and social policy. New York: Hemisphere.Google Scholar
  73. Tasker, F. 2005. Lesbian mothers, gay fathers, and their children: a review. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 26(3), 224–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Tetlock, P. E. 2012. Rational versus irrational prejudices: How problematic is the ideological lopsidedness of social psychology? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 519–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Umberson, D. 2012. Texas professors respond to new research on gay parenting. Huffington Post. University of Texas 2012, Aug. 29. University of Texas at Austin completes inquiry into allegations of scientific misconduct. Retrieved on Nov. 7, 2012, from http://www.utexas.edu/news/2012/08/29/regnerus-scientific-misconduct-inquiry-completed.
  76. Wilson, T. D., DePaulo, B. M., Mook, D. G., & Klaaren, K. J. 1993. Scientists’ evaluations of research: The biasing effects of the importance of the topic. Psychological Science, 4(5), 322–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wright, J. D. 2012. Introductory remarks. Social Science Research, 41(6), 133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chapman University, One University DriveOrangeUSA

Personalised recommendations